In the Face of New, 100% Tariffs, What Spirits to Stock Up On Now

By Brad Japhe

February 14, 2020, 10:33 AM EST

By this weekend, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) may institute a new round of tariffs on wines and spirits (as well as other luxury goods and foodstuffs, such as cheese) imported from the European Union. The increase could affix as much as a 100% increase to the import price. It’s the latest escalation in Trump’s trade war with the EU, which saw a 25% tax levied this past October and has united distillers on both sides of the Atlantic as it rattles the global whiskey business.

“Assuming there is a 100% ad valorem tariff, American consumers could expect the average price of impacted spirits and wines to be approximately 60% more costly in stores, restaurants, and bars within 90 days of tariff imposition,” says David M. Jabour, president of Twin Liquors, one of Texas’s largest beverage retailers, with 80 locations.

Even your favorite cocktails may become a lot more expensive. Take the Negroni—equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth—two-thirds of which are now subject to tariffs. (Gin is currently not on the list).

Campari is especially illustrative. Its significance within the world of mixology, as a bitter backbone to many of the industry’s standard sippers, helped cement its status as the world’s top-selling Italian liqueur. After the 25% tariff was imposed, a standard bottle of Campari went from$25 to$30; another round could bump that up to$50 or more. “It’s making it more difficult to do business,” laments Derek Brown, owner of the Columbia Room, an award-winning cocktail lounge in Washington. “We rely on a lot of imported products, and we don’t want$20 Negronis. People will order it less.”'

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